At the end of Part 2, we were so close to trying for a WoF with only a non-functional speedo as the issue.
Make no mistake, there is still a huge amount of work to be done on the car, but for now, our focus is on getting a WoF and then driving the GT Four to see what else shows up that needs fixing.
After going to Hawera to work on our V8 project car, I picked up a spare GT Four dash cluster. This should really show where the issue is and to be honest, I’m really hoping this other cluster will work. Then, we’ve got absolute direction on why the speedo isn’t going.
The next weekend at home, I pulled our original dash cluster out and replaced it with the borrowed one, and went for a drive. Guess what? Still no speedo. There are words that can’t be published as to how I felt that day. So it’s not the cluster, and that meant tackling the GT Four’s wiring again. The wiring is a bit of a mess at the moment, as rats had chewed through some of it and the previous owner did what he could to get the car sorted. One of those things he did was to “join a couple of wires together” and the speedo “sort of started working”, so my eyes were set on the issue being a wiring one.
I got my trusty meter out and found the circuit complete between the ECU and the dash connector. Next, I metered out between the speed sensor on the gearbox and the dash connector – and I had a circuit. Lots of head scratching came next, and I decided to order another speed sensor. While our current speed sensor looks sort of new, they are only $30 to buy.
A week went past and the sensor turned up, I replaced the old one and went for a drive – the speedo worked! Not only that, but the road speed seemed exactly right. I shot back home and put my old dash cluster in, and the speedo didn’t work. So all this time, there were two issues; a faulty speed sensor and a faulty dash cluster.
Project Car: 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four | First WoF Check Since 2009
Not one to miss an opportunity, I put the borrowed dash cluster back in and drove straight to VTNZ. There was nothing stopping me now from going for a WoF to see what the car would fail on. I had zero doubts it would fail but wanted that checklist in my hands.
After going through the checks, the list came back:
- Chip on the windscreen
- No door card on the passenger’s side
- No glovebox installed
- One of the rear struts leaking
- Left-hand steering boot is torn
- Steering column play
The windscreen chip is about 5mm across, so small I could barely see it. Still, that’s an easy fix. I’m unsure why having no door card could mean the GT Four failed a WoF, but it’s not a big job to reinstall it. Ditto the glovebox but I did ask; apparently, if you don’t have a glovebox and are in a crash, your passenger’s knees could hit some metal bracket and hurt them. Sort of sounds reasonable.
I had noticed the rear strut leaking when I did the diff mount but had forgotten about it. The same with the steering rack boot, I had seen it torn but so much has happened since then, I had totally forgotten about it.
The steering play is an issue. It wasn’t there before but now it is. I basically know what’s happened, but not how to fix it. I took the car back home, actually quite happy with my list of repairs needed. I thought it’d be a lot longer, and was surprised that my 14-year-old wiper blades passed WoF inspection. They may only be cheap but I thought they would be a guaranteed fail.
I started the drive back home in the GT Four, feeling pretty good, until steam started pouring out of the bonnet. I wasn’t far from home, and had visions of a cracked head or some other major disaster but just kept the car moving until I got to my driveway. Popping the bonnet, I could see a small split in the top radiator hose and steam being forced out. I have yet to fix my radiator fan so it hadn’t turned on. At least radiator hoses are cheap.
Project Car: 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four | Tilt-away Steering
The steering play is my biggest fear as I do not know what’s going to fix it. There was no play in the steering when I got the car, but now there’s 5mm play up and down. The GT Four has ‘tilt-away steering’, which means when you pull the ignition key out, the steering flicks upwards to give you more space to get out of the car. Possibly this is aimed at the American market, where body sizes are larger?
Regardless, while I had the whole front of the dash apart to try and fix the speedo wiring, I pulled the upper and lower steering cowls off so I could get the dash apart. Since then, the tilt-away steering has not worked and the steering play appeared.
So my first WoF mission is to try and get the tilt-away steering working again and my gut feeling is if I do that, the steering play will go. Easier said than done, as the whole steering for the GT Four is quite complex, with levers for telescoping the wheel and tilting the wheel. I pulled and pushed levers, and checked out diagrams on the internet – but no joy.
While looking at the upper steering cowl, I noticed a button I had not seen before. So I put the cowl back on and the button disappeared. I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t work out where the button had gone until I loosened off the telescoping steering lever and pulled the wheel towards me, and the button appeared. I hit the button and the tilt-away steering started working, and the steering play disappeared. So that button enables/disables the tilt-away steering. Job done.
Next on the list was putting the door card and glovebox back in, a ten-minute job. I contacted Chipped and they are set to come during the week and fix the windscreen. They mention that if it’s in the driver’s line of sight and there’s any scarring left after the chip repair, it may still not get a WoF. My chip is so small, I don’t think it will be an issue.
Project Car: 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four | More WoF Repairs
So the last items on the list are the suspension strut leaking and the steering boot. I don’t have a spring compressor and I don’t have a hoist, so I’ve booked the car with South End Motors, just up the road from me. They’ll change out both rear struts, replace both steering rack boots and also I’ve given them the new rear discs I got with the car to put them on. Got to make the most of someone having a hoist!
While this is happening, I sent my speedo off to Auto Instruments in New Plymouth. They’re aware of these Toyota speedos bombing out over time. In Part 2 we got the connections resoldered on the back of the speedo, but replacing the capacitors on them is also a common repair. It’s going to cost around $100 to fix the speedo, and it should be back well in time for my 28-day WoF recheck time.
While this is all going on, I’ve decided that after the split radiator hose issue, I’ve got to get the radiator fan going. On checking the bottom of the radiator, there is no fan sensor, which is the sensor needed to operate the fan. I picked one up locally, plugged it in and now the fan comes on when it should.
After South End Motors did the work on the car, I shot the car back to VTNZ, confident of getting a Wof. But no. They’ve found a clicking noise in the steering that wasn’t there before? Very strange, but still the car failed its WoF. Feeling a bit despondent at this point, South End Motors got the GT Four back up on the hoist to find the left tie rod end had play. Part ordered and installed, but by now 28 days for my WoF check with VTNZ had passed. So I got South End Motors to do a complete WoF check, fully expecting it to fly through. But again, no; a number plate bulb out (big deal) and they found a small split in the edge of the driver’s seat belt, that somehow VTNZ failed to find.
I took the car home feeling pretty deflated, like it is never going to be road legal. Still, my friend in Hawera where we work on our other project car has seatbelts for the GT4 and will send them down.
During this time, the original dash cluster came back from New Plymouth and so was installed. The speedo is working again, but now the rev counter has stopped working. I pulled the cluster out again (!) and sent it back to Auto Instruments to get the capacitors for the rev counter replaced. In hindsight, I should have got them to do them all at the same time. Lesson learnt.
Project Car: 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four | Speedo Stops Working…Again
Before the seatbelts arrived, the dash cluster came back to me in just a few days. I stuck it back in the car and now had a rev counter. Deciding to drive it around the block to check everything was working, now I notice the speedo has stopped working and I have an engine check light. I took the car home and parked it in the garage, and shut the door (insert your own expletive here).
The next weekend it was time to see what was going on with the GT4. Although the 3SGTE engine does not have ODBII, you can put a jumper wire on a diagnostic block in the engine bay and then count the number of flashes for the engine check light. I got 42, which is a speed sensor issue. The penny dropped – no speedo and that was the fault code? I headed to the speed sensor that is screwed onto the gearbox to find it loose. Now very happy, I screwed it back down tight, and have a working speedometer again.
One thing I’ve noticed on my short test drives to get WoF checks is that the radiator hoses get very hot while the gauge sits on Normal. The engine bay has that hot, moist smell to it. My gut feeling it was a thermostat issue, so since I had time I decided to replace it. Getting to it is not that easy, but could certainly be harder. You have to remove the alternator, but that’s not too hard. I put the thermostat in a pot of water (don’t tell my wife) and boiled it, and yet the thermostat only opened the slightest amount. While a thermostat for the GT Four is not cheap – around $60 – at least that’s an easy fix. Or is it?
During the next week, I spent time trying to find the right thermostat for the GT4. That wasn’t too difficult – just two different branches to visit. But finding something as simple as a thermostat gasket was proving much harder. Just couldn’t find one. In the end, I bought 1,000 metres of gasket paper and made my own like we used to do in the 1980s. Okay, it wasn’t quite 1,000 metres of gasket paper, but it seemed like it. The minimum amount you have to buy is huge!
The next weekend was focused on replacing the thermostat, seat belt and number plate bulb. Deciding to do the easy job first, the number plate bulb was a 5-minute job. Seatbelt replacement in the GT4 is not too hard either, although the huge plastic trim that needs to come off is a pain to reinstall.
That done, I tackled the thermostat and got a new one in, gasket made and no leaks on starting the car. So that was it – the GT Four is booked in for a WoF recheck this week, and it should get one. I’ve said that twice already but this time I’m feeling more confident.
Project Car: 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four | First Time Road Legal Since 2009
And it did get a WoF. Now all I need to do is register the car and I can drive it legally on the roads. That means I can now start fixing more cosmetic things, but also can listen out for weird noises of bangs and scrapes and start getting the car sorted.
At the end of sorting just about everything, we’ll be booking the GT Four in for a panel and paint. It doesn’t need a lot of panel work, now the major stuff has been done. Mainly it’s lots of little dents and scrapes over the whole car.
Stay tuned as we continue bringing this 1993 Toyota Celica GT Four back to its glory.